“Supporting, inspring and connecting Christ-centred leaders and congregations within the United Church of Canada”

Rev. Gary Paterson

We have asked all the nominees for moderator four questions so that we, as a church, could get to know them a little better. Here are the responses for Rev. Gary Paterson. If you would like to know more about Gary, please read his profile from the General Council 41 website.

1) “Cruxifusion” means “united by the cross.” What does Jesus’ death on the cross and his resurrection mean to you?
Many things:

– Killed by us — Roman authorities, religious authorities; betrayal, denial, abandonment… that’s what we humans do. And God says, “I know. But there’s more to the story…. fortunately, it’s not just about you.” – Resurrection – an ultimate affirmation of Jesus’ Way.

– Killed by the powers – and God said, “Crucifixion is never the last word!” There is more life, new life. And in the end – darkness overcome…victory, resurrection, recreation. The source and foundation of our hope.

– The great cry of abandonment – “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” – our cry, too. And then, finally … a response; though sometimes after death. “[Nothing] in all creation can separate us from the love of God, in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

– God in Jesus, and therefore on the cross — so how much does God love us? Well, look at the cross, God’s willingness to suffer and to say “forgive”… when confronted by our worst.

– Laying down his life for his friends – and breathing Holy Spirit, his breath, into them!

And then, sometimes the poet says it best (G. Hopkins)

Enough! The Resurrection,
A heart’s clarion! Away grief’s gasping, joyless days, dejection.
Across my foundering deck shone
A beacon, an eternal beam. Flesh fade, and mortal trash
Fall to the residuary worm; world’s wildfire, leave but ash:
In a flash, at a trumpet crash,
I am all at once what Christ is, since he was what I am and
This Jack, joke, poor potsherd, patch, matchwood, immortal diamond,
Is immortal diamond.

2) Describe the God you worship.
Mystery, transcendence and awe; lots of stars – “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers… what are human beings that you are mindful of them.”

Yahweh — yes, God has a “name” … but such a name!
“I am who I am” – “I am what I am” – “I will be what I will be”

Story Maker – revealed in and through the story telling of the Bible

The One in whom I live and move and have my being (as does all of creation).
Spirit Energy, the Source, the Ground of Being — not a person, but personal; and mindful of humanity.

Incarnate in Jesus, where I see the face of God turned toward me; where God is revealed in the life and teachings of Jesus, in his crucifixion and resurrection; Jesus, the lens through whom the light of God shines; where God is revealed as Love.

The Holy One, with whom I am in relationship.

3) Which Christian author has had the greatest impact on you?
Looking at my book shelves; and remembering over the years… not one, but many authors who have touched me, influenced me, and, together, shaped me:

Beginnings Gerard Manly Hopkins – for his poetry
Annie Dillard – Pilgrim at Tinker Creek +

Seminary Paul Tillich – The Courage to Be +
Reinhold Niebuhr – Moral Man and Immoral Society +

After… for the Frederick Buechner – The Magnificent Defeat +
Heart Henri Nouwen — With Open Hands +
John O’Donohue – Anam Cara +

Always John Cobb – Process Theology: An Introductory Exposition +
Reading, Walter Brueggemann — The Prophetic Imagination +
Learning Barbara Brown Taylor – The Luminous Web +
Marcus Borg – The Heart of Christianity +
Karen Armstrong – A History of God +

4) What gifts and passions do you have that you believe the United Church of Canada needs today?
A passion for God… that says it all.

A passion for the United Church… its unique voice, and what it can offer to Christendom, and to the world, increasingly secular and spiritual (is it a gift to come from BC where we’re on the crest of that wave of spiritual-but-not-religious?)

A passion for expressing the faith in new ways and language, while remaining rooted in the Biblical story… my love of poetry, metaphor and symbol, of theology; of movies and science and stories
A passion for preaching… and for people… and for their stories.

A passion for reshaping our public prophetic witness.

A variety of church experience… small rural (Winfield), small city (Marpole), Conference Office Staff; inner city (First United), big city (Ryerson) and downtown big church (St. Andrew’s –Wesley) – I know and love this church of ours.

Back to List of Nominees